[Coral-List] Coral mortality in a warmer and acidified ocean

David Evans davidjevans1818 at yahoo.com
Fri Feb 10 13:59:13 EST 2017

C-Listers -This discussion on ocean acidity has been interesting all around.. It's raised interesting questions for sure. I have to admit, I haven't had a chance to read the original article on ocean acidity and geographical distribution through geological time (I that's what it was, memory being what it is and all). But I've followed some of the back and forth. Please excuse my questions/observations if they seem naive, but take them just for what they're worth. 
First, regarding co2 being good for plant growth, I assume that's referring to the benefit given to the zooxanthelae of the various coral groups of species. But wouldn't that also benefit algae species that are known to become a problem on hermatipic tropical coral reefs? 
Also regarding the co2 is beneficial for plants comment (maybe I'm focusing too narrowly on it?): Don't we have to consider the difference between atmospheric environments (terrestrial plants) and aquatic/marine plants? The point being that aquatic/marine environments experience an increased in ambient acidity along with increased in available dissolved carbon dioxide. I know that's the whole point about concern with ocean acidification, but aside from affecting calcium deposition, doesn't pH level affect metabolism/physiology as well? Is the acidity just not high enough to be a concern to cell infrastructure/metabolism? I know some chemical reactions (including organic?) are dependent on pH levels. A quick look, interestingly, shows acidity being potentially relevant in cancerous tumor growth and metastases (if I used that term correctly). Could corals have developed strategies to deal with this over the geological ages? Anyway, the question is: is this just about the balance between the benefit and harm introduced by increasing co2 levels? But taken in context with other environmental pressures, both man made and "natural"? And in context additionally of scale and speed of change? (And there's a whole lot of other types of variables too, like length of high pressure events along with frequency and spacial size and distribution).
And that brings me to another observation/question I first had: (please excuse my ignorance of the wider literature) does the geological record show that in times of high co2/acidity (and warmth/high water temps) and during rapid onset of those kind of marine conditions did the corals die off? And is it possible they had safe havens or refuges somewhere on earth where they obviously survived to eventually recolonize larger parts of our tropical oceans as we know them today? That is: it's not a zero-sum game, is it. We know that climates don't change homogenically across the globe. I guess I could/should research those points, but it seems relevant to the discussion to just raise the question.
Interesting observation about Gene referencing how "the Devil can quote scripture." Does that mean the climate skeptic using "real facts" is analogous to the Devil? I think the obvious point is that it's a matter of intent for which the facts are being used. The "Devil's" intent we know is not good. Certainly, it's worth keeping in mind, right? My own observation: given the track record of so called "skeptics" intent is important and it rarely seems good.
And last, something I've been wanting to just throw out onto the List for a while for pure interest sake (like, "huh! That is interesting...") and maybe also to highlight the importance and special-ness of coral reefs: The oldest known written story on earth, the Sumerian-Assyrian Epic of Gilgamesh, includes a passage about a "flower" that the eponymous hero must "dive below the waves" to retrieve. This "plant" confers" perpetual youth, or "immortality" upon its consumer. Now, I can only assume that the ancient Sumerian story tellers were talking about corals since the wording actually describes this marine "flower" as thorny or maybe "stoney"... Personally, I find it fascinating and heartening to see reference to corals appear in this oldest of written tales in humanity. It also predates the story in Genesis regarding the Garden of Eden and it includes a snake/serpent that comes and steals the "flower." Yes, a little different from the fruit of knowledge ("apple") but it's considered to be the inspiration for the Bible's story. Sumer and the city of Uruk (Gilgamesh's home town) are in present day Iraq near the mouths of the Tigris-Euphrates rivers, which has changed its coast line by many miles. I'm quite sure there were corals down there in the Persian Gulf back then (ca. 5000 ya)...
Any how, just some thoughts,
David J. Evans
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  On Fri, Feb 10, 2017 at 11:00 AM, coral-list-request at coral.aoml.noaa.gov<coral-list-request at coral.aoml.noaa.gov> wrote:   

Message: 1
Date: Thu, 9 Feb 2017 11:31:25 -0500
From: Eugene Shinn <eugeneshinn at mail.usf.edu>
Subject: [Coral-List] Coral mortality in a warmer and acidified ocean
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Message-ID: <72fc6ae9-ae12-9fab-c580-f011da2e7104 at mail.usf.edu>
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It is interesting watching Steve and Mike talking past one another. Just 
to clear the air I receive CO2Science regularly and have communicated 
with Idso. Yes he is a climate skeptic but that has little to do with 
the validity of the science in the articles he quotes. He is on firm 
ground when he says CO2 stimulates plant growth. I did those simple 
experiments with lima beans in jars back in the 5^th grade. (I wonder if 
they still do that in science classes anymore?) I am sure readers also 
know that greenhouse growers routinely raise Co2 levels to around 1,500 
ppm to stimulate production. None of this should have anything to do 
with whether one accepts scientific results or not regardless of the 
results. You should not be selecting the facts you want.

I saw that article about /Acropora/ through geologic time and thought it 
was interesting enough to be posted on the list. It was a good piece of 
science. Science and should not be labeled by the source but by the 
quality of the research. Someone said: ?the devil can quote scriptures? 
Surely that does not mean the scriptures are not valid. We should not 
stick our heads in the sand to quote another old chestnut. Now lets turn 
it all around. Suppose someone sends in a post from the far left 
Huffington post. Should we not read it? Of course! Determine its value 
by the quality of the work and the validity of the research. Lighten up, 


No Rocks, No Water, No Ecosystem (EAS)
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E. A. Shinn, Courtesy Professor
University of South Florida
College of Marine Science Room 221A
140 Seventh Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
<eugeneshinn at mail.usf.edu>
Tel 727 553-1158
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